While still a college student studying law, Rob Downey, president and founder of Annamaet Pet Food, was involved with dog sled teams. And, when his lead dog suddenly went lame, he started looking at her diet to try and determine the cause.
“It was really life-changing when I discovered what an important role nutrition plays in canine health,” he recalled. Consequently, Downey switched majors to dedicate his career to pet nutrition, founding his pet food company and closely working with his team to produce dog (and cat) food formulas that give pets the best nutrition possible with a focus on sustainable ingredients that also take care of the environment.
Citing his all-life stages dog food formula Annamaet Sustain, a grain-free recipe made with certified sustainable line-caught Alaskan cod with sustainable and stable Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) from fresh meat, Downey added, “we believe that sustainability and innovation really go hand in hand and we pride ourselves on the inclusion of nutraceuticals and ingredients like algae and turmeric, one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatory ingredients available in our products.”
The Annamaet plant is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, the gold standard of marine sustainability. The MSC Eco label means the fish used in the product is a certified sustainable source of fish that can be traced from boat to bag.
Brad Gruber, president of Health Extension, also said that his company focuses on solution-based nutrition. He cited the company’s Original line with Little Bites being its top seller along with the Original Chicken & Brown Rice recipe.
“If we look at our grain-free line, which is relatively new for us but growing at an amazingly fast pace, it’s our canine Buffalo & Whitefish and Chicken & Turkey recipes that are proving to be very popular with consumers,” he said. “We use fresh meats and low glycemic ingredients like chickpeas and lentils to help prevent allergies and cutting edge ingredients like coconut oil, organic apple cider vinegar and turmeric to aid digestion, help boost the immune system and provide a healthier and shinier coat. To complement these existing products, we recently launched several exciting recipes that round out our grain free lines with proteins such as venison, duck, salmon and buffalo.”
With solution-based nutrition fast becoming a buzz phrase in the food aisle, Canadian-based Petcurean doesn’t subscribe to a one-for-all philosophy. The company’s GO! recipes individually focus on pets that are picky eaters, need a grain-free or higher protein diet, and require a recipe with unique proteins or a limited number of ingredients. The three lines within the GO! brand are GO! SENSITIVITY + SHINE, GO! FIT + FREE, and GO! DAILY DEFENCE.
“Our GO! SENSITIVITY + SHINE recipes are great for all dogs, but were formulated especially for pets with specific dietary needs and food sensitivities,” explained Annabelle Immega, trade marketing manager for the company. “All recipes are carefully made with a single source of meat protein and as few ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs. Limited ingredient recipes continue to grow in popularity across the board. With one of the main causes for dietary intolerances being protein, we’re continuing to see demand for recipes that feature novel proteins, which is why we recently introduced a limited ingredient recipe with Alaska pollock. GO! FIT + FREE has the most meat of any GO! recipe, making it a protein-rich, lower carbohydrate diet designed to keep dogs healthy and fit.”
A Different Protein
According to Sevy Maurer, the food buyer for PetPeople in Worthington, Ohio, the Petcurean GO! limited ingredient duck formula is the company’s best seller at the store.
“Our dog customers really appreciate the simple, palatable and easy-to-digest formulas.
We strive to find the best food for each individual pet and make a point of always having samples and detailed product information on hand to share with people new to any product line,” Maurer said. “Our customers are very receptive to trying novel protein formulas. PetPeople associates work closely with customers to ensure that they are getting the results they want from any food changes.”
Taste of the Wild has also placed a strong focus on exotic proteins to meet dogs’ nutritional needs.
“While all of our formulas are appropriate for high-energy dogs, if fed in the proper amounts, our Wetlands Canine Formula with Roasted Fowl, Southwest Canyon Canine Formula with Wild Boar and our High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison are great formulas for more active dogs due to their higher fat and calorie content,” explained Mark Brinkmann, vice president of operations. “The PREY recipes contain four or fewer main ingredients (one animal protein source, sunflower oil, tomato pomace and lentils) and carefully selected vitamins and minerals, plus probiotics.”
Holly Sher, co-founder of Evanger’s, agreed with Brinkmann regarding the popularity of exotic proteins.
“Exotic proteins are more prevalent than ever before, as they are a good option for pets that exhibit allergies,” she said. “Also, pet-parents are looking for variety and to try something new for their pet and we are having a lot of success with formulas that contain rabbit and pheasant.”
I and love and you, the Boulder, Colorado, company boasts that its Naked Essentials and Nude Food Kibbles hold the coveted five-star rating from DogFoodAdvisor.com.
According to Lindsey Rabaut, the company’s director of marketing and innovation, all the products have been formulated by a holistic veterinarian to include the optimal combination of complete, whole-food nutrition, freshness, and premium ingredients.
The company has also created a special puppy starter kit to introduce consumers to its brand from puppyhood so that a dog will potentially go on to enjoy all life stage diets. The kit also includes treats and toys and even a free two-month subscription to Dog TV.
Before American Pet Nutrition launched Elevate, its line of premium wet and dry dog food, toward the latter part of last year, the company reached out to pet specialty retailers asking what they would like to see in a new brand on their shelves and formulated its new line to meet these requests. With real meat as the first ingredient, the four Elevate recipes feature protein fowl favorites such as chicken, duck and turkey (all in one recipe) as well as such exotic offerings as wild boar.
“There’s more to come,” explained Jim Reimann, brand manager for the company. “We plan to showcase additional products at the Global Pet Expo.”
In formulating the brand, the company also made a commitment to the pet specialty market that the products would never be sold online and would remain an exclusive in-store brand. And, in a time where there is a lot of focus on e-commerce, this is good news for the independent pet retail market.